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Being good at selling plays a crucial part in your company’s growth, but getting rejected and shut down isn’t always easy. But, what if you changed your approach? What if you left your sales scripts, hidden agendas and elevator pitches behind?
On the Digital Agency Marketing Podcast I interviewed Brian Burns, the host of The Brutal Truth About Sales and Selling Podcast, one of the top sales podcasts out there. We talked about how not to sell like a robot, but a human being.
In this article, I outline the three biggest takeaways I got from talking to Burns about B2B sales. Warning: You may not need a sales script after this.
1. Don’t be a B2B robot.
The problem with having a script is that it’s going to be all about you. It’s going to be in your language, your acronyms, about your company, about what makes you different — and you know what? Your prospects don’t care.
People don’t care about you until there’s a reason to care about you. You’ve got to show them that you’re interested in their business, what they want to achieve, what their life is like, what drives them nuts and try to help them with that.
Build a dialogue so that you can have a relationship with the person on the other end of a phone call or an email exchange. It’s not a transaction.
Certainly, every sale is different. The money is usually in the long-term, not in the short-term. If you just want to sell encyclopedias and you never want to see your prospects again, having a great pitch is probably pretty good, but that’s not what a lot of people are doing today. Most of the transactional dialogue-based selling has moved to ecommerce and Amazon. The real market today is for business-to-business people who can start a dialogue, build the relationship, help them solve a problem and ultimately work together.
What your potential client is looking for is somebody who’s going to help them, not somebody who’s the best at reciting an elevator pitch.
2. Go from unknown to known.
The next step is to find a way for prospects to like you. Guess how people like each other in the physical world? Is it somebody who asked to borrow $20? Or is it somebody who loans you $20? Exactly, it’s the giving.
Giving and reciprocation, quid pro quo, give and take, whatever you call it, is the way that people interchange trust and start to build a relationship. You’re not going to give prospects $20, but you can give them something that they think of as valuable. Offer a case study, a compliment, feedback, a request for their expertise — and now you’ve got a dialogue going.
Break down the process of pitching your potential clients into tiny baby steps so you can see what to do and what typically goes wrong. At each step, think about how to prevent those steps from going wrong and how to keep the momentum going.
At each step, you need to know which direction to take. It can’t just be a response. That’s service. Service people respond. Proactive people guide the client through this decision-making process, but the seller has to know what that is.
3. There are no real budgets.
Typically, decision makers in a company don’t have a real budget. Burns has been selling million-dollar deals for 20 years. He was selling stuff nobody knew they needed. There was never budget for any of it.
What you want to do is look at the company. Is it hiring? Is it laying off? Is it public? Is it well-funded? If it is, the decision maker can afford $100,000. To a company like that $100,000 is noise. So, get away from a limiting belief like that one.
You can’t ask potential clients, “Do you have money for this?” They’re going to lie to you if they don’t and if they do they’re going to tell you it’s going to be a lot less than they really do and you will come in under budget.
What you want to do is find out their level of interest. Is it a real problem they want to solve? Is there a date associated with it? What is the outcome they want from it? What prompted them to contact you? What did they like about what you’re doing?
You get the dialogue started and you guide them through the process. That’s how you qualify people.